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SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA, COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO CENTRAL MINUTE ORDER

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SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA, COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO CENTRAL MINUTE ORDER
SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA,
COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO
CENTRAL
MINUTE ORDER
DATE: 03/22/2012
TIME: 01:51 :00 PM
JUDICIAL OFFICER PRESIDING: Ronald S. Prager
CLERK: Lee Ryan
REPORTER/ERM: Not Reported
BAILIFF/COURT ATTENDANT:
DEPT: C-71
CASE NO: JCCP4041
CASE INIT.DATE: 06/19/1998
CASE TITLE: JCCP4041 COORDINATION PROCEEDING TOBACCO LITIGATION
CASE TYPE: Mise Complaints- Other
CASE CATEGORY: Civil- Unlimited
EVENT TYPE: Motion Hearing (Civil)
APPEARANCES
The Court, having taken the above-entitled matter under submission on 03/21/12 and having fully
considered the arguments of all parties, both written and oral, as well as the evidence presented, now
rules as follows:
The Court rules on plaintiff People of the State of California, ex rei. Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General
of the State of California's ("Plaintiff') motion for attorneys' fees as follows:
After taking the matter under submission, the Court affirms its tentative ruling.
As a preliminary matter, the Court grants defendant R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.'s ("Defendant") request
for judicial notice. In addition, the Court overrules objection numbers 1-3, 5-7 to the Pearl Declaration.
Objection No. 4 is sustained on the ground of lack of foundation.
Plaintiff requests $2,943,920.63 in attorney fees based on the lodestar method. (See e.g., Serrano v.
Priest (1977) 20 Cal.3d 25, 48.) The time records for the attorneys and paralegals who worked on this
case were kept in a system known as Prolaw. (Finberg Dec., Exh. A.) Exhibit B to the Finberg _
Declaration summarizes the hours that have not been claimed . Finally, the time records for the law
interns and other temporary workers kept their own time records since they do not use the Prelaw
system.
Defendant mainly takes issue with the reasonableness of the hourly rates Plaintiff used to calculate the
lodestar. More specifically, Defendant contends that local rates are much lower and should be applied
here. Although local rates are generally used in determining statutory fee awards unless local counsel
was unavailable to litigate the case (Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. County of San Bernadino (2010) 188
Cai.App.4th 603, 614), unavailability has been interpreted broadly and applies whenever it is
DATE: 03/22/2012
DEPT: C-71
MINUTE ORDER
Page 1
Calendar No.
CASE TITLE: JCCP4041 COORDINATION
CASE NO: JCCP4041
PROCEEDING TOBACCO LITIGATION
"impracticable" to hire local counsel. (/d. at p. 618; Horsford v. Bd. of Trustees (2005) 132 Cai.App.4th
359, 398-399). According to Dennis Eckhart ("Eckhart"), the head of the Tobacco Section in 2007 when
this litigation commenced, neither of the two Tobacco Section attorneys were appropriate or available to
take primary responsibility for this case. (ld. at p. 6.) None of the other attorneys in the Attorney
General's {"AG") officer were available to handle this case. (/d. at p. 5.) Furthermore, each of the
divisions and sections of the AG's office has specific duties and responsibilities; each has its own budget
and staff. (Ibid.) In other words, attorneys in the AG's office are not interchangeable. Even if it could do
so, the attorneys from the other sections would not have any familiarity with the tobacco industry, the
MSA, the Consent Decree and the past conduct Defendant. That expertise was essential to this
litigation. (/d. at p. 6.)
As to Defendant's argument that it should have utilized local outside counsel, Plaintiff presented
evidence that the AG's office did not have funds budgeted to pay outside counsel at higher rates than it
pays for its own attorneys. (Eckhart Dec.) It cannot create new positions and hire new lawyers at will: it
operates under severe budget constraints, laws, and procedures in hiring. (/d. at p. 5.) Furthermore, the
AG is required by law to represent the state with its own employees except in rare circumstances not
present here. (See Cal. Const., art. VII, §5; Gov. Code §12520.) Private attorneys may be used when
there is a conflict of interest, an emergency, or in an area where the office does not have expertise.
(Gov. Code §19130{b)(3), {5), {7), 10; DOJ Administrative Manual, Ch. 5, §05250.) Here, there was no
conflict or emergency and the Tobacco Section could not overlook its extensive expertise to hire outside
counsel. Therefore, the use of market rates is appropriate in this case.
As to Defendant's contention that the lodestar should be adjusted downward due to Plaintiff's practice of
quarter-hour billing, there is no evidence that Plaintiffs rates are padded. In fact, it submitted evidence
that it took precautions to avoid overbilling. In addition, the document that Defendant's expert, James E.
King ("King"), relies on to assert that Plaintiff's rates are padded i.e., 2003 Arbitration Advisory 03-01,
states that it does "not constitute the official position or policy of the State Bar of California." On the
other hand, the American Bar Association Section of Business Law Task Force on Lawyer Business
Ethics approved quarter hour billing in its "Statement of Principles" at page 13. (Reply, Exh. A; see a/so
ABA Comm. on Ethics and Prof. Resp., Formal Op. 93-379 (1993).) Finally, Plaintiff's expert, Richard M.
Pearl stated that state attorneys do not have the same incentive to overcharge that can be found in the
private sector. (Pearl Supp. Dec., ~19.)
As to Defendant's partial success argument, the Court reiterates its previous determination that the 15
percent deduction by the Plaintiff was sufficient.
Based on the foregoing, the motion is granted.
$2,943,920.63.
Plaintiff shall be awarded attorney fees of
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Judge Ronald S. Prager
DATE: 03/22/2012
DEPT: C-71
MINUTE ORDER
Page2
Calendar No.
FOR COURT USE ONLY
SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA, COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO
~COUNTY COURTHOUSE, 220 W. BROADWAY, SAN DIEGO, CA 92101-3814
HALL OF JUSTICE, 330 W. BROADWAY, SAN DIEGO, CA 92101-3827
FAMILY COURT, 1555 6TH AVE, SAN DIEGO, CA 92101·3294
MADGE BRADLEY BLDG., 1409 4TH AVE., SAN DIEGO, CA 92101-3105
KEARNY MESA BRANCH, 8950 CLAIREMONT MESA BLVD., SAN DIEGO, CA 92123-1187
NORTH COUNTY DIVISION, 325 S. MELROSE DR., VISTA, CA 92083-6643
0 EAST COUNTY DIVISION, 250 E. MAIN ST.. EL CAJON, CA 92020-3941
0 RAMONA BRANCH, 1428 MONTECITO RD., RAMONA, CA 92065-5200
0 SOUTH COUNTY DIVISION, 500 3RO AVE., CHULA VISTA, CA 91910-5649
JUVENILE COURT, 2851 MEADOW LARK DR., SAN DIEGO, CA 92123-2792
JUVENILE COURT 325 S. MELROSE DR. VISTA CA 92083-6634
PLAINTIFF(S)IPETITIONER(S)
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COORDINATION PROCEEDINGS TOBACCO LITIGATION
DEFENDANT(S)/RESPONDENT(S)
JUDGE:
RONALD S. PRAGER
DEPT:
71
CASE NUMBER
CLERK'S CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE BY MAIL
(CCP 1013a(4))
JCCP4041
I, LEE RYAN, certify that I am not a party to the above-entitled case; that on the date shown below, I served the following
document(s):
RULING AFTER ORAL ARGUMENT ON 3/21/12, MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES.
on the parties shown below by placing a true copy in a separate envelope, addressed as shown below; each envelope was then sealed and,
with postage thereon fully prepaid, deposited in the United States Postal Service at:
San Diego
D Vista D El Cajon
0 Chula Vista 0 Ramona, California.
IX
NAME & ADDRESS
Jeanne Finberg, Esq.
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
1515 Clay Street, 20'h Floor
P.O.Box 70550
Oakland, CA 94612
NAME & ADDRESS
Noel J. Francisco, Esq.
JONES DAY
51 Louisiana Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001
Robert C. Wright, Esq.
WRIGHT & L'ESTRANGE
401 West A Street, Suite 2250
San Diego, CA92101
CLERK OF THE SUPERIOR COURT
Date: ___0:::..:3=:.:12~3~/1...,2,___ _ __
SDSC CIV·286(Rev. 8-01)
l'Y2_. : :. .t.~1!-=F.~.~~··=~----'Deputy
by _ _ _ _ _ _ _
~
CLERK'S CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE BY MAIL
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